Business Day has reported that former president Jacob Zuma has fired his attorney Michael Hulley, who confirmed to TimesLIVE that he was terminated “two weeks ago”.
Zuma is due to again face corruption charges in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on July 27.
The presidency has confirmed that the state will fund only the costs of Zuma’s criminal defence if it ever goes to trial. Hulley has been Zuma’s lawyer for at least 12 years.
In May, Hulley suggested that the “uncertainty” around who would be paying Zuma’s legal fees in his corruption trial was making it difficult for him to retain the services of his advocates, who were also fired.
Zuma’s corruption trial is related to the controversial arms deal. He was initially charged with corruption, money laundering and racketeering in 2005 before charges were dropped in 2009. They have since been reinstated.
In March, a signed fax emerged from 2006 apparently showing that Zuma undertook to pay his own legal fees, but only in the event that he loses his corruption case.
The matter of who should pay for Zuma’s legal fees came to the forefront after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that Zuma’s legal defence had cost taxpayers R15.3 million to date. The president added that the state would continue to pay Zuma’s fees until the “fees deal” covering the former president has been set aside by a court.
Ramaphosa explained that the deal that was struck between then president Thabo Mbeki and Zuma in 2006 had been based on the provisions of the State Attorney Act. It apparently continues to be in force.
The DA then announced it would approach the court to set aside the decision to allow taxpayers’ money to be used to pay Zuma’s legal fees.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko then said that Zuma’s lawyers will have to apply to the state attorney for any further funding of any civil applications linked to his prosecution.
He will presumably struggle to fund his legal bid to overturn National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams’s decision to reinstate corruption charges.